Denise Goldberg's blog

A return to death
To the lowest place in North America

Friday, November 21, 2008

Circling twice

Today's adventures started under a dark sky once again. Zabriskie Point was much closer than yesterday's early morning destination, a bit more than five minutes in the car. The sky was starting to get lighter as Denise picked a spot for her camera and tripod. She was chatting with a photographer who she met last night when someone else came up to say hello. Who? It was one of the men from the photography seminar she took back in September in the Lake District in England. That was fun!

As the sun rose higher in the sky, it painted the rock formations in bright light. It was fun watching the changes. I watched with Denise, but sometimes I turned around to look at the sky to the east, to watch the sun edging higher, changing the depth of color in the sky.

After the rocks at Zabriskie Point were bathed in light, we headed up the road just a little bit to wander the loop called Twenty Mule Team Canyon. Last night we learned how this beautiful loop earned it's name. The borax from Harmony Borax Works was hauled in wagon trains of 2 borax 'cars' plus a water carrier (to haul water for the mules), and those trains were pulled by twenty mules. Funny, I never questioned the name of this loop before.

The colors and shapes of the rocks in this loop are outstanding. Just to tell you how outstanding they are... Denise insisted on visiting this loop twice today, once just after sunrise, and once in the afternoon. We both preferred the morning colors.

It was a day of doing things twice. Remember yesterday when I said that we should have walked the Mustard Canyon loop? This morning, we did just that! We wandered off the trail too... before the trail dives into the canyon, is runs along flat land covered with tufted remnants of grasses, covered the salt. There are areas where water has clearly run, areas of salf flats. Oh! walking on those surfaces was crunchy! And then, we slipped between the rock walls, walking, standing, looking, listening. As we were standing we could hear cracking sounds. I think the rocks were talking to us!

Then I thought we were going to traipse up Desolation Canyon. Denise surprised me when she pulled into the parking lot for Golden Canyon, not Desolation Canyon. Instead of bouncing up Golden Canyon (we did walk there earlier in the week), we walked up the valley, along the edge of the rocks. Should I call them rocks? Denise just loves the look of these rocks, and whenever she drove by them she wanted to get closer. So we did! We saw rounded edges, patterns in rock, colors, fascinating colors, reds and yellows and oranges, white, and patches of pink and green. We walked as far as Gower Gulch, then we bounced back again. (Oh, you're right - Denise doesn't really bounce. But I do!) We stopped to wander up some of the narrow gaps in the rocks. I still find it interesting that the rock structures look different when you turn around and look at them from another direction. So even though this was an out-and-back walk, the bounce back was still interesting.

A second trip around Twenty Mule Team Canyon was our goodbye to Death Valley for this trip. I'm sure we'll be back someday.

It was time to drive... back to Las Vegas. Denise & I settled in for a quiet evening after finding a Whole Foods market. She's been going through fresh fruit & veggie withdrawal. She told me that a banana a day wasn't enough... We shared a good dinner tonight - fresh pizza, with tomatoes and pesto, broccoli on the side, and a bowl of fruit for desert - late season berries, melon, and pineapple. Denise was happy, and I was too.

Tomorrow? We plan to do a bit of morning wandering, and then we'll be taking to the air. Time to head home....

Where next?

Go back to Photos: Zabriskie Point sunset, or jump forward to Photos: Zabriskie Point sunrise.